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Lafayette County Planning Commission denies potential housing and condo developments

Two potential housing developments decided to table their proposals after going before the Lafayette County Planning Commission Monday night after having their variance requests denied by the commission members.

Shane Cardwell with Precision Engineering sought a fire protection variance for a 14-unit condo development on Old Taylor Road. The cottage-style structures would be single family detached rental units, according to Cardwell.

“The developer wants to blend them into the natural topography,” Cardwell said.

Cardwell told the commission that Hawks Nest Village would have an onsite well since it is basically halfway between Taylor Water Association and water service provided by the City of Oxford. The developer would like a variance on the required 8-inch line since it would not be utilizing fire hydrants or public water.

“We are proposing four-inch lines with a private well,” Cardwell said.

County Engineer Larry Britt asked Cardwell if they had contacted Taylor Water Association or the city of Oxford about using public water. Cardwell said there had been questions regarding water pressure and flow issues if they connected with Taylor Water Association.

“It came down to feasibility issue with access,” Cardwell said.

County Fire Coordinator Wes Anderson told the commission when asked that “I can’t support a variance without some sort of water system there.”

Commissioner TJ Ray said he couldn’t recommend to the Board of Supervisors a development without fire protection and made a motion to deny the application. The rest of the commission agreed and the site plan was also tabled.

No clustering allowed

409 Rentals sought a variance for the county’s density requirement of four units per acre as Jeff Williams with Williams Engineering asked that developer J.W. McCurdy be allowed to cluster 20 duplex units on less than four acres near Tuscan Hills subdivision. Williams said there are a number of trees on the site the developer would like to maintain rather than remove.

The development was originally approved for 36 units on 8.6 acres.

Ray, who interprets the regulation as it is written in allowing four units per acre, said he was not about to set a precedent of allowing one developer to “bend the rules.”

Commission member Ray Garrett said he sees the benefits of clustering a development and has argued in favor of the practice in the past because of the environmental benefits and better use of property.

McCurdy said that with four units of four bedrooms per unit would be 16 bedrooms on an acre and “we’re asking for 20 bedrooms on three acres. They’re one-bedroom duplexes.”

“So we could go back and do 48 bedrooms on three acres and be by your rules because you said we could have 16 bedrooms per acre on that three acres or we could have 20 one-bedrooms and have 20 cars in there instead of 48 cars on a pig trail County Road 409,” McCurdy said. “Not every rule is perfect.”

“I’ve heard no compelling reason (to grant the variance), other than to do it,” Ray said. “This would simply start the line for the next 20 developers that come through that door saying ‘but you did it for them and now you’ve got to do it for me.’”

After a lengthy discussion over the interpretation of the county regulations and rules regarding clustering housing units, a motion to deny the request was made and approved unanimously and Williams asked that the commission table the site plan review, which was granted.